Robert H. “Budge” Brown, a member of the wine community, owner of Tulip Hill in Nice and Cleavage Creek Wineries in Pope Valley, is missing. The Civil Air Patrol, Amador County Sheriff’s Office, and California Highway Patrol are searching for his plane, a Lancair Legacy fixed wing single engine aircraft.
Brown flew his Lancair out of the Minden Tahoe airport in Nevada at 4:00 PM on Wednesday. He was flying to Tracy to pick up a friend to go fishing. Brown had flown the route hundreds of times and had thousands of hours of flying experience.
Various sources report that radar shows the plane making a “rough, rapid descent.” The search is focused on the northeast corner of Amador County.
Budge Brown lost his wife, Arlene, to breast cancer in 2005 after 48 years of marriage.
In 2007, Budge Brown created Cleavage Creek, renaming a winery to honor his wife, to help bring more attention to the fight against breast cancer, and as a novel way to help fund the fight the disease that took Arlene.
Cleavage Creek features a picture of different women, all breast cancer survivors, on each of the winery’s different releases. Budge Brown directs 10% of the gross revenue from each bottle sold to be used to help fund the fight against breast cancer.
Budge Brown used social media well. I was one of many wine writers, wine bloggers, and other influencers to receive a shipment of his Cleavage Creek Cellars wines. I tasted them, and reviewed them, writing, “Cleavage Creek Cellars does two great things. The first is to make really drinkable wine. The second, and more impressive, thing is to donate 10% of the revenue from their sales to help fight breast cancer. Smiling women grace each label of Cleavage Creek wines, women who have fought and survived breast cancer. Socially conscious wine tastes better…or makes you feel more connected to the world at large and happier to be drinking it.”
Budge Brown was accessible, friendly, and supportive of social media wine marketers. I am just one person he has touched who is asking that your prayers join ours as the search for Budge Brown continues today, and that you keep the Brown family and his winery family of employees in your prayers as well.
Edited to add: I am writing with a heavy heart. The wreckage of Budge Brown’s airplane was found this afternoon at 3:45 PM by the Amador County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue. A body, presumably Budge’s, and personal effects belonging to Budge were found at the scene of the crash.